Period & Style
An interview with the artist Sam Gilliam
Sam Gilliam grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and studied art in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1962 he moved to Washington, D.C., and created abstract paintings inspired by the Washington Color School artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. These artists, among others, broke the rules of abstract expressionism by pouring thinned paint directly onto unprimed canvas instead of applying thick, vigorous brushstrokes. Gilliam pushed this method even further by folding and draping the canvas before it dried, creating unusual "tie-dye" effects. He started working with very large canvases in the late 1960s, hanging vast pieces of painted cloth across walls and ceilings to emphasize the relationship between the work and its environment.